Women in #Iraq: Can Rape Ever Be God’s Will?

The ISIS militants have told families in Iraq to ‘˜hand over’ their daughters ‘“ virgins or not ‘“ to them for sex.

Can rape ever be God’s will inflicted upon the women of a country?

The Sunni militants of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) think so.

The ISIS militants have told families in Iraq to ‘hand over’ their daughters – virgins or not – to them for sex. It does not even matter whether they are married or not. According to the Mirror, leaflets in the captured towns of Mosul and Tikrit claim that the women ‘must join jihad’ and ‘must sleep’ with the militants in order to ‘cleanse’ themselves.

Those who refuse to abide by the fatwa have been warned of consequences as they will be violating ‘God’s will’.

The news was presented mildly by some newspapers saying that the ISIS militants were on the lookout for ‘wives’ for themselves as many of them are unmarried. They are, reportedly, knocking on every door asking about the women members of the family and searching their ID cards which contains their marital information.

The fatwa and other puritanical social norms apply to the Sunni women too although the ISIS claims that its men have been ordered not to bother local people if they are Sunni. More interestingly, the militants do not have any problem raping or getting married to Shia women.

It should be noted that a similar fatwa was issued by a Saudi-based cleric allowing jihadists to rape women in Syria and the practice taking shape in Iraq is nothing new. History has witnesses that in all disputes which lead to war, women have been used as a vehicle of revenge. Be it the history of Indian partition, or world wars, or recent self-justifying wars by US in Iraq or Afghanistan, all witnesses grave cases of violence against women.

The exact numbers of these incidences may not be present with us but according to a report by UN Women, “Rape has been a rampant tactic in modern wars. Conservative estimates suggest that 20,000 to 50,000 women were raped during the 1992–1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while approximately 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls were targeted in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.”

UNFPA presents the data from one of its studies on violence against women in war-ridden countries: “By 1993, the Zenica Centre for the Registration of War and Genocide Crime in Bosnia-Herzegovina had documented 40,000 cases of war-related rape. Of a sample of Rwandan women surveyed in 1999, 39 percent reported being raped during the 1994 genocide, and 72 percent said they knew someone who had been raped. An estimated 23,200 to 45,600 Kosovar Albanian women are believed to have been raped between August 1998 and August 1999, the height of the conflict with Serbia.

In 2003, 74 percent of a random sample of 388 Liberian refugee women living in camps in Sierra Leone reported being sexually abused prior to being displaced from their homes in Liberia. Fifty-five percent of them experienced sexual violence during displacement. During and following a rebel offensive launched in 1998 on the capital city of Brazzaville, in the Republic of Congo, approximately 2,000 women sought out medical treatment for sexual violence, 10 percent of whom reported rape-related pregnancies.

United Nations officials estimate that the real number of women who were raped in Brazzaville during this single wave of violence was closer to 5,000. Based on the outcomes of a study undertaken in 2000, researchers concluded that approximately 50,000 to 64,000 internally displaced women may have been sexually victimised during Sierra Leone’s protracted armed conflict. 19 percent of 1,575 Burundian women surveyed by the United Nations Population Fund in 2004 had been raped; 40 percent had heard about or had witnessed the rape of a minor. Of a sample of 410 internally displaced Colombian women in Cartagena who were surveyed in 2003, 8 percent reported some form of sexual violence prior to being displaced, and 11 percent reported being abused since their displacement.

Between October 2004 and February 2005, Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) treated almost 500 rape victims in Darfur, Sudan. Since that time, incidents of rape have continued, and MSF strongly believes the number of women who have been raped is much greater than the number of those who have received medical care.”

One cannot help but note that all these countries have large Muslim populations and most of the conflict was either pertaining to religion or politics. Lives are lost when revolutions are brought and war demands blood.

But butchering women and using them as warm bodies in the garb of God’s will is what religion and politics teaches us?

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